APEX has revealed the finalists of the APEX/IFSA Awards for 2019. This includes the brand new for this year award for Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation, a category that celebrates airlines or vendors who have created a new innovation in the IFEC marketplace.
It’s an accolade which is much sought after in the sector, and which was won last year by Air New Zealand for their partnership with Inmarsat and Panasonic to deliver WiFi to one of the most remote places on earth.
This year will see four worthy finalists battle it out for the coveted title of Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation. Let’s see who they are.
IFPL’s new Bluetooth audio jack
Considering the rising trend for Bluetooth headsets, IFPL’s Bluetooth Audio Jack 2045 brings wireless connectivity to passengers and airlines in a small, affordable and easy to install proposition. Combining a standard 3.5m audio jack with a one button Bluetooth connection aims to give passengers more choice and airlines a new revenue stream.
Passengers can connect to the audio jack using a touch button with a built in LED to confirm pairing, while a software upgrade to the seatback monitor will allow visual confirmation of pairing. For airlines, IFPL say that this is an easy upgrade to existing IFE systems, which will reduce customer induced damage through repeated plugging and unplugging of headphones. There is also an opportunity for airlines to generate additional revenue through the on board sale of Bluetooth headsets.
Although JetBlue has been operating Fly-Fi since 2013, its capabilities have been enhanced further through the latest generation Ka-band IFC from Viasat. Capable of providing the fastest data connections right now, the system is also designed to be future proof with capacity to upgrade to a gigabit-capable throughput as new satellite technology comes online.
Right now, the JetBlue Viasat partnership is consistently achieving speeds of around 20Mbps on all flights. As well as this, JetBlue offers Fly-Fi from gate to gate and, most notably, always offer it free of charge and without restrictions. The carrier recently signed up to have its entire fleet of A220s equipped with Fly-Fi, once again showing the big boys how to do it right.
Latécoère and Air France’s LiFi
Using light to transmit data is not an entirely new concept, but it’s pretty contemporary in terms of aviation. LiFi uses invisible light, often in the infrared spectrum, to provide a wireless data connection in a discreet area. The technology has the potential to provide superfast connections, with tests proving it capable of up to 100Mbps already.
Air France and Latécoère have been real life testing LiFi, beginning at the Paris Air Show where a gaming tournament took place in a mock aircraft cabin. The technology will be taking to the skies on board an Air France A321 in September this year, paving the way for smaller, lighter and more capable connections in the future. The partnership has also been nominated for a Crystal Cabin Award for Best Customer Journey Experience.
VT Miltope’s security software
With the rising demand for inflight connectivity, cybersecurity on aircraft has become a growth area of interest too. VT Miltope has long been looking to make IFEC safer for passengers and airlines, developing new wireless access point systems such as their Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT).
The technology optimizes the performance of the network, making the WAP ‘smart’ by sharing information between access points and making decisions about traffic flow. This includes automatic load balancing and works in connection with RazorSecure, their solution to protecting the data being transmitted. VT Miltope’s new MAP3 access points come with RazorSecure built in, identifying hack risks and scanning for vulnerabilities to ensure swift action on malicious activity.
And the winner is…
APEX EXPO 2019 will take place from the 9th to the 12th September 2019, in Los Angles, California. It’s the 40th anniversary of the event, so it’s going to be a big one. The winners of the awards will be revealed on the 9th September at a ceremony during the event. As always, Get Connected will keep our readers up to date with all the news from the event including the winners of this category.